Fecundity and longevity of Argentine ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) queens in response to irradiation



Irradiation is a post-harvest quarantine treatment option to control ants and other hitchhiker pests on fresh horticultural products traded between countries. As little is known about irradiation effects on ants, radiotolerance of the Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Dolichoderinae), was studied to determine a dose sufficient for its control. Queens collected from Buenos Aires, Argentina, were irradiated with 30, 60, 90 Gy or left untreated as controls, and then followed for 8 weeks to evaluate their survival and fecundity. Overall queen survival and brood viability decreased with increasing irradiation dose. The number of eggs was reduced by 50%, 69% and 56% in the 30, 60 and 90 Gy doses, respectively, compared with untreated control queens. The percentage of eggs that developed into larvae decreased from 41.1% in the control to 22.5%, 1.4%, and 0% in the 30, 60, and 90 Gy treatments, respectively. Thus, the number of larvae was reduced by 69% in the 30 Gy treatment compared with the control, only one larva was observed in the 60 Gy treatment, and none in the 90 Gy treatment. Only one pupa was observed in the 30 Gy treatment and none in the 60 and 90 Gy treatments during the 8-week experiment. Queens irradiated with 60 and 90 Gy had significantly reduced longevity compared with queens treated with lower doses or untreated queens. Radiation dose ≥90 Gy stopped brood development in Argentine ant queens and should be sufficient as a phytosanitary treatment. The radiotolerance of Argentine ant appears to be similar to that of two other important invasive ants.